North American Crane Working Group


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Rucker, Christine R. "Food and Feeding Habits of Released Florida Sandhill Cranes.", In: Stahlecker D. W., ed. 1992. Proceedings of the Sixth North American Crane Workshop, Oct. 3-5, 1991, Regina, Sask. (Grand Island, NE.: North American Crane Working Group, 1992), 85-89.


Conference co-sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Service, Saskatchewan Parks and Renewable Resources Department, and the Whooping Crane Conservation Association, Canadian Council. Proceedings used by permission of the North American Crane Working Group.


Food habits of 4 pairs of free-ranging Florida sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis pratensis) on St. Catherine's Island, Georgia, were studied from May to October 1990. Food items were identified and quantified at close range « 10 m). The 4 pairs varied in how they used plant and animal resources (P < 0.0001). Animal material in the diets averaged 19.1 % and ranged from 13.4 to 36.7%. Plant material averaged 80.9% in the pairs' diets. Major foods included subsurface bulbs, roots, and tubers of yellow star grass (Hypoxis micrantha), catbrier (Smilax glauca), and false garlic (Allium bivalva), longleaf pine seeds (Pinus palustris), and insects. Food habits shifted seasonally for all pairs (P < 0.(001). In July and August the percent occurrences of yellow star grass and false garlic in the diets were > 50 %. During September and October pine seed occurrence was > 75 % in the diets of 2 pairs. Amphibians, crustaceans, and small mammals were used opportunistically. Use of visual and tactile senses in foraging behavior are suggested mechanisms influencing food choice.